The Novel Apartments in Deep Ellum are the second of their kind in Dallas. Owned by Crescent Communities, the Deep Ellum edition of the Novel falls perfectly in line with the area's artsy spirit by employing local artists, who in turn depicted other local artists.
The building's dark, sleek look isn't all too eye-catching from the street until you turn the corner and behold the giant mural of Dallas icon Erykah Badu in the parking garage. As you travel further into Novel, its art makes you want to linger. Unique local pieces make up the whole building, from the parking lot, to the lobby, all the way up to the top balcony lounge, where you can really take in the tile mural of Venus in the pool.
Novel is one of Lesli Marshall’s most recent curatorial projects. Marshall is a Dallas native who owns and operates Articulation Art. She's a graduate of Brookhaven College and the University of North Texas whose initiative in the 42 Murals project, which filled Deep Ellum's walls with art, first gained her local and national attention. Still based in Dallas, Marshall's work has grown in popularity, and she now has studios in Los Angeles, New York and London.
You may have seen Marshall's work as a curator in the new Virgin Hotel or read about her own work as an artist, but her real gift to Dallas involves recruiting other artists in collaborations such as the design for the Novel building, giving way to a flourishing, fresh artistic community. "It makes me happy to collaborate and work with people who do what I can't do," Marshall says.
The team at Novel worked with Marshall to curate a look that fit the neighborhood while offering something "fresh and different," as she says. With this idea in mind, designers were able to commission artists and curate the right look. While the Bishop Arts edition of Novel includes a more 1920s flat iron look, Marshall and the Novel team went for more of an urban jungle feel to integrate the complex into Deep Ellum.
Novel's parking garage murals of Lead Belly and Erykah Badu are a product of Drigo and Ryan Stalsby's collaboration. Both artists work primarily in urban settings and were able to incorporate their own look in the garage. Drigo's modern colorful shapes pop around Stalsby's lifesize black-and-white murals. The marrying of these artist's work symbolizes Deep Ellum's historic streets, now filled with modern movement.
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"Erykah was all I listened to when I was 19 and first starting out as an artist," Marshall says of the mural she commissioned from the pair. "It felt great to tip my hat to her with this profile." Her goal was for the works to stand out from other murals in the area; instead of a one-off piece by a single artist, Marshall wanted a richer, layered collaboration by multiple artists.
Leighton Autrey's work is powerful, dynamic and pulls many elements together. Autrey has also achieved worldwide success, having shown at major events like SXSW, the Super Bowl and the 2012 Olympics. His work inside Novel's fitness room keeps with the overall style yet stands out on its own. Anyone will feel strong while lifting weights in the setting.
But perhaps the most striking piece belongs to artist Jeremy Biggers in the form of Sandro Botticelli's "Venus" staring up from the bottom of the complex's pool. For this project, he digitally created Venus and then installed her on the pool’s floor.
The Novel Apartments at 2900 Canton Street are open to those interested in leasing or for visitors who just want to take in the art. Marshall says Novel plans further additions to its art collection, starting with an origami sculpture that will hang above the stairwell.